Thursday, 7 May 2009

Because we're all in it together

We all fall out with each other.

Not me and Dig, obviously. We piss each other off low level everyday. We don't keep the heated passion for monumental chuckingcrockeryatwalls-type falling out. This form of anger the kids reserve for each other.

Not Squirrel. She is exempt today, and keeps her own council while she dodges bullets. Wise.

We suspect the arguments start because Tiger is homesick. Her homesickness, her missing love for a lost cuddly snow leopard, doesn't manifest as a sad face and the expression, I'm homesick. Not at all. Her sadness is manifested by hurling blunt objects and sharp words at Shark.

Shark, unfortunately, woke up this morning with a single purpose of returning as much of that misery as possible to everyone and anyone, including the koala. This is not because she is homesick. This is because she is aged nine and still learning on which side her bread is buttered.

But today Shark, we want to take you dolphin watching, and every time you come up with that smart answer back, we delay that dolphin watching experience a little while longer to piss you off in return for pissing us off. This is not because we are homesick. This is because we are mean, bolshy parents who wouldn't mind a bit of acknowledgement that you are loafing about Australia instead of strapped to a local primary school desk staring at black and white photos in a geography text book.

The morning proceeds pretty much like low crossfire for an hour or so, with the kids needling each other, while me and Dig try to keep the lid on what we're really feeling in that very British parent way, even though we would oh so much like to give everyone a good clip round the ear and a slap on the bum. But we do not. We say things like That is a very rude and disrespectful thing to say. A slap round the arse would convey that feeling of outrage so much quicker.

Eventually of course we do make it to the dolphin watching boat ride round the harbour of Port Stephens, where the sulky behaviour more or less continues, except this time Shark's beginning to suspect she might just be thrown overboard, so better keep her mouth shut in case mama goes berserk and has what she calls 'an elastic band moment'.

Anyway, I'm ignoring it now. There are some 150 bottlenose dolphins living it large in the harbour, or so we're told. We manage to find about six of them, to be told they are doing what dolphins do when they are asleep, that is switch half their brain off, come to the surface of the water and breathe before switching brain sides.

Shark has lashed herself to the front of the ship like Captain Ahab and she is not giving way to anyone, not nobody, not ever, because she is damn well seeing those dolphins if it is the last thing she does right now on this earth. If she does not see at least six dolphins I am taking the captain of that craft into hiding for his own safety.

Tiger is not at all thrilled by this experience and spends most of her time complaining that Shark has given her the camera and a death threat. She says Shark has told her to take pictures or else. But the dolphins are non-existent, and if she did not exist then she would not have to take pictures of non-existent dolphins. We say do not be silly and give the camera here. At the great upgoing shout of excitement with the first sighting of the non-existent dolphins, Tiger switches tack and says she is not allowed to photograph the non-existent dolphins now because we say so.

Squirrel is caught in the middle of this misery highway and is infected by the sheer weight of this depressive cloud. I feed her biscuits surreptitiously as a reward for having to put up with us all, then I push off for my complimentary cup of wobbly tea. Dig drinks beer.

There is only one solution to this intemperate time when the dolphins have been watched and Shark threatened with a seat on an aeroplane home rightnowthissecond, and that is to make to the beach.

Strangely, everyone is made happy here, sculpting islands and boats with one seat and other solitary constructions from sand, and we all do this quietly on our own patch until the sun goes down, the tide comes in, and we walk home in the dark.

On the fumbling way home in pitch blackness, the Inland Revenue in Scotland telephones Dig on his mobile and threatens a penalty charge if he does not pay immediately the outstanding sum demanded from him two days after we left England.

That is OK says Dig. But first, I am on a family holiday. And second, everything else can wait.


sharon said...

Oh dear. Not quite going according to the travel brochure is it! In mitigation I feel honour bound to point out that the weather over in the eastern states has been pretty grim this Autumn.....

I will e-mail you this week, too much to say for your comments box.

Grit said...

hi sharon! i think this brief holiday at the beach is as successful as it gets. we keep our ambitions low, and then we are never disappointed. and it is no reflection on australia, but triplets in australia.